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La Bohème - Clapham Opera Festival

Everything is so predictable in La Bohème - the four men start off poor but happy, Rodolfo falls in love with Mimi, Musetta abandons her rich old lover, there's lots of jealousy, Mimi will die, Musetta will find redemption. And yet.....and yet the story does not lose its power for the re-telling, and many tears were wiped surreptitiously from the eyes of the audience at the Clapham Opera Festival's production on 20 November. 

Alberto Sousa's Rodolfo was beguiling, his friendship with Ricardo Panela's Marcello convincing, and with the party-loving Shaunard played by Nick Dwyer and Simon Grange's Colline they all gathered in the opening act, acting and singing beautifully, and came together with verve as conspirators to dupe the hapless Benoit, sung by Marcin Gesla, out of yet another month's rent. Their way of surviving.

With the arrival on the scene of Mimi, sung by Alice Privett, the audience was utterly captivated, smiling at the subterfuge as she and Rodolfo fall in love at first sight. At the restaurant, with the arrival of the unrepentant and outrageous Musetta (Katherine Blumenthal) showing vocally and with every gesture her contempt for the unfortunate Alcindoro (Marcin Gesla) -
her way of surviving - the cast of characters was complete, and we enjoyed every morsel of this re-telling of Puccini's opera. 

We were so lucky to be able to enjoy this - third - Clapham Opera Festival. All visitors have marvelled at the wonderful quality of the singing, the ingenious staging, the first-rate acting, the attention to details, and the love and care devoted to the production. With her team, Marie Soulier richly deserved the applause she received on Friday. The attendance on that day, and by all accounts on Sunday, was ample demonstration that the word has got round.

For next year, if there is to be one, some more funding is needed. We wish her good fortune and a sponsor who sees the true worth of associating with a Festival on the way up.